The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council tell us that the Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, is the Universal Sacrament of Salvation. It is in and through the Church, which is Christ’s Body and can never be separated from Christ the Head, that all peoples, from every time and place, find salvation and eternal life in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.
The Church is Catholic, a word expressing universality and wholeness, because Christ is present in her – the Church holds and defends the fullness of the Faith handed on to her by Jesus Christ everywhere and at all times.
The phrase “the Body of Christ” is a common New Testament metaphor for the Church (all those who are truly saved). The Church is called “one body in Christ” in Romans 12:5, “one body” in 1 Corinthians 10:17, “the body of Christ” in 1 Corinthians 12:27 and Ephesians 4:12, and “the body” in Hebrews 13:3. The Church is clearly equated with “the body” of Christ in Ephesians 5:23 and Colossians 1:24.
When Christ entered our world, He took on a physical body “prepared” for Him (Hebrews 10:5; Philippians 2:7). Through His physical body, Jesus demonstrated the love of God clearly, tangibly, and boldly—especially through His sacrificial death on the cross (Romans 5:8). After His bodily ascension, Christ continues His work in the world through those He has redeemed—the Church now demonstrates the love of God clearly, tangibly, and boldly. In this way, the Church functions as “the Body of Christ.”